NEW YORK: Levi Strauss, Procter & Gamble and FedEx are among the brand owners making the most effective use of new technology to engage customers and drive growth, a study has argued.

Information Week, the technology title, has published its annual list of the firms using highly innovative strategies, with Levi Strauss, the apparel group, lauded for pioneering "social shopping".

A digital effort for Dockers tied to a Super Bowl spot also saw 630,000 people take part in a promotion, while the Shape What's To Come web community for young women has proved especially popular.

"We try to be as agnostic as possible to brands and technologies so that we can go anywhere," Tom Peck, CIO of Levi Strauss, said. "But we want to be careful, too, that we don't get too aggressive, dilute our brand, and cannibalise our other channels."

Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods giant, was praised for its Business Sufficiency programme, which predicts key indicators like market share between six and 12 months into the future.

It has created a meeting room housing two 30 feet wide screens showing all this data, which is also made available remotely, in real-time. "The key business benefit is the speed of decision making," Guy Peri, head of P&G's business analytics unit, said.

Elsewhere, FedEx, the delivery company, received plaudits for FedEx Office and FedEx Print. These products allow clients to print documents at any of its 1,800 sites via a PC, the web or using an app.

"In the world of content there's still a significant need for our customers to be able to move documents and content securely and have them reproduced," Rob Carter, FedEx's CIO, said. "We're fanatics about the customer experience."

Eli Lilly, the pharma company, has developed an open innovation platform allowing potential partners to submit compounds for free online tests assessing their prospective usefulness, and encoding some details so intellectual property is protected.

Interested parties can then choose if they want to work with Eli Lilly, which benefits from attracting researchers. "That's what we're counting on - the open source, collaborative model," said MaryJo Zaborowski, information officer for Lilly Research Laboratories.

Vail, the ski resorts operator, was also credited for the EpicMix web and smartphone app, letting visitors' track their performance on the slopes, earn "pins" for certain achievements, and share the details on Facebook.

In all, 100,000 people have utilised this app, and 45% made their data visible on Facebook, yielding 35m impressions. "It turns these 100,000 people into brand activists," Robert Urwiler, Vail's CIO, said. "You have to earn brand activists."

Data sourced from Information Week; additional content by Warc staff